Day 1 – Road Trip to Chicago

The road trip to Chicago actually went amazingly well.  We got a much earlier start than I thought we were going to, so that made everything get off on a positive note.  Cliff and I packed loads of healthy(ish) snacks and made it a point not to eat anything from a fast food restaurant or a gas station the whole way up there.  Other than the amazing pimento cheese roll-ups, the trip was pretty uneventful.  I always get excited when we see the windmills though!

20140516_161431We checked into the hotel and then Cliff and I decided to go ahead and park the car to O’Hare.  Mom and Dad stayed at the hotel and had dinner at TGIF, while Cliff and I embarked on a journey to find a hot dog.  We hit pay dirt at a little hole in the wall place not far from the hotel.  Cliff got a (giant!) gyro and I got a hot dog loaded with onions and mustard.  I passed on the French fries and Cliff had to throw away half of his meal, but it was delicious.  If anyone is near the Midway airport in Chicago I highly recommend Nicky’s.

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We found the parking easily enough and dropped off the car and then headed to the train station.  This was my first experience with the “L” and I was so excited!  The ride was pretty long, but I loved every second of it.  It was dirty, smelly, and a little creepy, but it was an experience that I had always wanted to have and that was enough to make it awesome.  Riding through downtown Chicago on a train with my arms wrapped around my hubby was a memory that I will always cherish, no matter if there were beer bottles rolling around and a very strong urine smell wafting through the car.  I guess sometimes moments in life really are just what you make them.

Day 2 – Flight to Seattle

Our flight didn’t leave until 2, so we hung around the hotel for a while.  Mom and I walked around the hotel complex (we stayed right across from the airport, so there were about 6 hotels all right there together).  We probably walked about a mile to a mile and a half and it was a great way to get the day started.  Originally I had planned to get up and work out, but then I thought about having to unpack everything and then figure out how to get it all back in together and I decided to just forget it for the day.  We were on vacation after all!

Checking in at Midway was a breeze!  My Dad is on the safe passenger list (he works in security, so I’m sure that had something to do with it) so we sailed through security in less than 10 minutes and found ourselves with quite the wait before our flight took off.   Luckily the waiting area was really comfortable, so we just kind of sat around and relaxed for a while.  I am happy to report that neither Cliff nor I needed a seatbelt extender for this trip!  I had been so nervous about the seats on the plane and it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my chest.  The flight was fine, with just a little turbulence when we were landing in Denver.  It made Cliff a little sick to his stomach (I’m sure that didn’t have anything to do with the few drinks he had to “calm his nerves”) but it actually didn’t bother me at all.  I was far more worried about the seats on the plane than the flight itself.  I started reading Divergent on the plane and before I knew it we were in Seattle.

I guess it wasn’t too uneventful, we did see this:

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By the time we got to the airport and picked up our luggage everyone was starting to get a little hangry.  We decided to wait until we picked up the car and then go into town to get something to eat.  The first (and really only) hiccup we had was at Hertz.  I had made a reservation for a mid-sized car.

Apparently to Hertz a mid-sized car is a Toyota Corolla.

I disagree with Hertz.

Long story short, I wound up paying about $70 more to upgrade to a Camry, but I definitely don’t regret it.  As you’ll see later, we took several road trips and the upgrade was more than worth it.  Everything else went off without a hitch.  I texted the apartment manager once we left the airport and we drove straight there.  We only had to circle the block once before finding the alley that led to our parking garage.  Anyone from Seattle knows that that was quite the feat for an out of towner!  The manager, Autumn, let us in and got us settled right away.  She was incredibly nice and had wonderful suggestions for us to think about during our stay.

The apartment was perfect!  We found it on VRBO and I was very happy to find that it matched the description to a T!  We will definitely stay there again when we go back (noticed how I said when).  The apartment was fully equipped with everything that we could possibly need for the week.  Two bedrooms, two full baths, and even a washer and dryer.  I can’t tell you how nice it was to do all of our laundry before we came home.

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Autumn suggested a little pizza joint right beside the front entrance to the apartment and, since we were starving, we decided that the closer it was the better.  We let our hunger get the best of us and we wound up ordering way too much food.  My pizza was pretty good, a little greasy, but tasty.  Cliff’s calzone was terrible.  It was overkill with the toppings inside and parts of the dough didn’t seem like it had cooked all the way.  However, hunger is the best spice and it took me two weeks to admit that the place just wasn’t all that great. However, it felt amazing to just walk back to our apartment after dinner.

Day 3 – Seattle Orientation

We had already decided that we were going to take it easy on our first day and just get acclimated to the area and that’s just what we did.  We started the day with breakfast from Macrina’s Bakery, right next to Belltown Pizza where we had eaten the night before.  I hated my sandwich, but that’s only because I ordered the wrong thing.  When they brought it to me there was a giant artichoke on top.  I tried a bite of it anyway, and reaffirmed that I DO NOT like artichokes.   Cliff loved it, so no harm no foul.  Everyone else’s food was really good.  We wound up coming back later in the trip to try one of their apple fritter loafs and it was amazing!  I’m so glad I don’t have to be near that bakery every day or I would be in some serious trouble.

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After breakfast we decided to make our way down to Pike Place Market, which was only about ¾ of a mile from our apartment.  We walked through Belltown and down to the Sound and then over to Pike Place.

Our next tactical blunder of the trip was going there on a Sunday.

Wow.

Just wow.

Sooooo many people.

Needless to say, we walked around for just a bit and then decided that we should probably come back on a week day (great decision!)  We did stay long enough to buy a stunning bouquet of flowers.

20140518_120722We left the official market area and just walked around downtown for a bit.  We stopped in Hard Rock (of course!) so I could pick up my customary t-shirt.  We walked down to Post Alley and over to the Ferris wheel.  After we walked around for a few hours we went back to the apartment to relax and get used to the three hour time difference.  We decided to walk back down to the Sound and catch a ferry to Bainbridge Island and walk around and have dinner.

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They should really have a sign letting people know that the entire island closes down on Sundays…

Not a single shop was open.

At first we were a little let down, but then we stumbled across this unbelievable Mexican restaurant (I really wish I remembered the name.  It’s right inside the main stretch on the right, if that helps!)  Since we were hungry and didn’t want to wait to go back across on the ferry, we popped in and grabbed a table.  I am so glad we did because it wound up being one of the best meals of the whole trip!  They had this fantastic concoction that they served with their chips made of mushrooms, onion, garlic, and I think lime juice.  We didn’t even order queso, it was that good!  I played it safe with a taco salad (which was also delicious) and didn’t completely lose control over the chips.  Mom’s meal really stole the show!  She ordered some kind of bacon wrapped shrimp meal and it was just scrumptious!  When we left I was satisfied, but not full to bursting.  It made me feel good about food for the rest of the trip.  Normally vacations are a big binge trigger for me, but I was determined not to let that happen this time.

While we were eating, it started pouring rain.  I know you’re thinking, “Well duh – it’s Seattle, doesn’t it always rain?”  Well here’s the thing.

No, it doesn’t actually always rain.  The weather was remarkable and several of the people we ran into said that the little popup storm was actually very uncharacteristic.  After the rain let up a little we made our way back to the ferry.

This was what we saw on our way back.

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It was the perfect ending to the perfect first day in the perfect city.

More to come tomorrow!